Isle of Dogs residents ask housing minister Grant Shapps to block takeover

Residents from the Isle of Dogs have written to housing minister Grant Shapps urging him to block the takeover of Island Homes by One Housing Group.

Tenants and members of residents’ associations argue that the takeover has been marred by maladministration and a lack of meaningful consultation of residents on the takeover.

A statement released by the group read: “On 31st January, Island Homes announced that its Board had decided to dissolve Island Homes Housing Association and transfer the stock to One Housing Group. Island Homes began a “consultation process” with residents consisting of sending out a letter backing its own proposal. Island Homes staff then knocked on doors to collect residents’ responses.

“This sham consultation is being used by Island Homes as evidence that residents are in favour of the move.”

Residents also claim they had agreed with Tower Hamlets council that the board of any housing association to which stock was transferred in a takeover would be comprised of elected residents. They claim this was stipulated in the council’s “offer document”, on the basis of which tenants had agreed to the takeover, but was later left out of the final “transfer document” - thus rendering it legally unenforceable.

The statement continued: “Since One Housing Group began interfering in Island Homes, virtually all the promises made about transfer by the Council have been broken. In addition, service standards have declined and the housing association has become ever more remote.

“If the Housing Minister wishes to uphold government policy on the “big society”, on local people running their own services and not being tied up in red tape by remote bureaucrats, he will have to intervene in this forced takeover.”

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However, a spokesman for One Housing Group insisted residents would benefit from the takeover: “When One Housing Group first took responsibility for Island Homes we were extremely concerned about high rent arrears, the number of empty properties, poor responses to anti-social behaviour and, in general, poor standards of estate management and maintenance.

“The integration of Island Homes into One Housing Group will mean better value for money and the savings will be reinvested into providing better housing and community services.”